New Quarterly Employment Report Tracks Hiring in Professional Occupations-Executives Surveyed Express Confidence in Business Growth; Some Report Recruiting Difficulties

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MENLO PARK, CA — With all eyes focused on job creation, a new survey that tracks professional employment offers a bit of good news for the upcoming quarter. Ten percent of executives interviewed for The Robert Half Professional Employment Report said they plan to increase the number of full-time employees in professional occupations in the second quarter, and 6 percent anticipate declines.

The result is a net 4 percent of respondents who plan to add staff in the coming three months. Eighty-two percent of executives interviewed expressed confidence in their companies’ prospects for growth in the next quarter.


The Robert Half Professional Employment Report is the first quarterly executive survey of its size and scope to focus exclusively on professional-level hiring. The survey is based on telephone interviews with more than 4,000 executives throughout the United States about their hiring plans for the upcoming quarter. Among the respondents are chief financial officers (CFOs), chief information officers (CIOs), senior human resources (HR) managers, attorneys, and advertising and marketing executives.

Respondents offered their views on hiring plans within their respective fields and the challenge of finding skilled professionals. The survey also measures executives’ confidence in their companies’ prospects for growth in the second quarter of 2010. Robert Half has been reporting employment data through its Hiring Index program since 1992. For additional information, please visit

”Key Findings”

*A net 4 percent of executives plan to increase hiring in professional occupations, such as accounting, finance and information technology (IT), in the second quarter of 2010.

*Executives in the finance, insurance and real estate sector plan to do the most hiring of professional staff, with a net 9 percent projecting hiring increases.

*The West North Central[1], West South Central[2] and Mountain[3] regions of the United States showed the most promise, with a net 7 percent of executives from each area planning to add personnel.

*The legal field is expected to see the strongest hiring activity, with a net 26 percent of respondents expecting to increase staff levels.

*Nearly four in 10 executives (37 percent)[4] said it is challenging to find skilled professionals today.

“We developed this report to monitor hiring trends within professional occupations, since the employment situation in this segment can sometimes differ from the general job market,” said Max Messmer, chairman and CEO of Robert Half International. “For example, in recent years, the U.S. unemployment rate for workers with college degrees has been about half that of the overall unemployment rate.”

Messmer noted that the second-quarter projections may indicate companies are cautiously rebuilding. “Many firms, especially those that found they cut staff too aggressively during the worst of the recession, may need to add personnel at the first sign of a pickup in business,” he said. “Business development, IT, finance, legal, HR, marketing and other professionals are critical to the ability of companies to respond to a rise in customer demand. Some companies are adding temporary professionals to handle shorter-term needs and hiring selectively for roles they feel require full-time professionals.”

”Professional-Level Hiring — By Industry”

Executives in the finance, insurance and real estate sector, and the transportation industry, expect the most active hiring of professional-level staff, with a net 9 percent and net 6 percent, respectively, projecting increases in personnel levels. In addition, a net 5 percent of executives in the retail industry said they anticipate hiring in the second quarter.

“As the financial services industry rebounds, firms in this sector are adding staff, ranging from IT professionals to financial analysts, to keep pace with work volume,” said Brett Good, a Robert Half International district president. “Companies particularly need people who can analyze risk and ensure compliance with government accounting mandates.”

”Professional-Level Hiring — By Region”

Executives in the West North Central, West South Central and Mountain states are the most optimistic, with a net 7 percent in each region expecting to add staff. This is three points above the national average.

”Professional-Level Hiring — By Field”

For the study, executives from a variety of fields[5] were asked about full-time hiring within their departments or firms. The legal profession should see the strongest hiring activity, according to the attorneys polled, with 26 percent of respondents projecting staff increases and none anticipating declines.

“Hiring in the legal profession is likely a result of unusually large-scale downsizings by many law firms in the early months of the recession,” said Good. “Consequently, a number of firms are now in a position where they must hire to keep pace with client demands. The downturn also has had a stimulative effect on certain practice areas, such as bankruptcy and foreclosure law, fueling hiring by law firms focusing on these specialties.”

A net 10 percent of HR executives said their companies plan to hire sales and business development staff. In addition, a net 5 percent of CIOs interviewed expect to increase their IT personnel.


”Confidence Levels”

When asked how confident they are in their companies’ prospects for growth in the next three months, 82 percent of executives said they were either very confident or somewhat confident. In addition, despite high unemployment, nearly four in 10 respondents (37 percent) indicated that recruiting skilled professionals poses a challenge.

‘About Robert Half International: Founded in 1948, Robert Half International, the world’s first and largest specialized staffing firm, is a recognized leader in professional staffing services. The company’s specialized staffing divisions include Accountemps